Fish camps are set up and ready to go at the mouth of the Kasilof river, but time in the water is going to be reduced this year.
King salmon returns have been trickling in up and down Cook Inlet, including to the Kasilof. In an effort to hit escapement goals, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is cutting hours for subsistence set gillnet users. Area management biologist Brian Marston says this isn’t the first time they’ve had to trim fishing time to try and preserve the king return.
“We did the same thing last time we had some low counts. It’s a 30 percent cutback in hours, so you figure it will cut back by about a third, some of the (king) harvest and hopefully allow some more to go up the Kasilof.”
Beginning this Friday, fishing hours will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., a reduction of five hours. Marston says that restriction is likely to stay in place, depending on how counts shape up as the run progresses.
“If numbers change, we can always change that by emergency order, but I don’t see that happening. Now, we have the Crooked Creek weir, which would only show a few fish at this time of year anyway, and it actually has shown a few kings going through the weir. The Kasilof itself, we don’t have any assessments this time of year," Marston said.
Sportfishing restrictions for kings were announced earlier this week for the Kasilof. Anglers are limited to a single, unbaited, artificial lure and a bag and possession limit of one hatchery king. Retention of wild kings is prohibited. The setgillnet season runs from the 15th through June 24th.